Pennsylvania is currently home to the Berks County Family Detention Center (BCRC), one of three detention centers for immigrant families, where children as young as two-weeks-old have been incarcerated. Many of the families currently at BCRC have been unjustly held for more than a year.
Governor Wolf Has the Power to Shut Down Berks. WHY WON’T HE ACT?
The continued incarceration of these immigrant families and the operation of BCRC is a disgrace and a stain on our Commonwealth. However, this stain could be erased by Ted Dallas, Secretary of the PA Department of Human Services (PA DHS) and Governor Tom Wolf, who have the power to shut the doors of BCRC and pressure ICE to release these families. Unfortunately, neither Secretary Dallas nor Governor Wolf have shown to have the political will to fully pursue all means available for releasing these families and shutting the center down.
In the past year the Shut Down Berks Coalition has repeatedly presented Secretary Dallas with information on the human rights violations taking place at BCRC and what actions he can take to protect and release these families. Extensive legal research was presented directly to Secretary Dallas and Governor Wolf outlining the specific powers that PA DHS has to shut down BCRC, and yet they have refused to take action. The laundry list of abuses suffered by parents and children, children as young as two weeks old, has not been enough to spur anything more than minimal action.
This nation, this state, that speaks of liberty and justice, will only speak hollow words until the Berks County Family Detention Center and all family detention centers are closed. During a time where the national dialogue includes talk of reviving internment camps and religious registries, now is the time for Secretary Dallas and Governor Wolf to take action. Every day BCRC is allowed to operate, is another day of legitimizing the growing movement of hate, racism, and xenophobia plaguing our country.
The Shut Down Berks Campaign is a grassroots coalition fighting to shut down the Berks County Family Detention Center and end family detention. The campaign is led by several local organizations, including GALAEI, Juntos, Make the Road PA, Migrant Power Movement, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), and Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Action Network (UUPLAN) with the support of national groups: Detention Watch Network, #Not1More, and We Belong Together.